(Bloomberg) -- Italian Premier Mario Draghi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said they are both working to achieve peace in Ukraine, putting behind them a diplomatic incident that had strained relations between their countries.

“We hope to reach an agreement within ten days by intensifying talks for opening sea passage for transportation of Ukrainian grain,” Erdogan said after a meeting with Draghi in Ankara.

The meeting marks the thawing of diplomatic relations between the two countries after Draghi said in April 2021 that Erdogan was among the category of “dictators” that European leaders have to work with, following a protocol incident involving European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during her time in Ankara.

Tuesday’s meeting “indicates the common will to reinforce collaboration: Italy and Turkey are partners, friends and allies,” Draghi said speaking alongside Erdogan. 

The two countries signed nine cooperation deals, including plans for closer ties in the defence industry. The two leaders also discussed the Samp/t air defense system.

“We want to come to the signing phase as soon as possible because this is of great importance for our defense systems,” Erdogan said.

The need to foster diplomatic ties with Turkey has become crucial after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to an Italian official. Italian and Turkish diplomats have frequent contacts over the issue, the official added. 

Draghi and Erdogan last met in Rome, on the sidelines of a summit of Group of 20 nations in October.  

Draghi traveled to Ankara with several officials, including Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, Energy Minister Roberto Cingolani and Economic Development Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti as part of an effort to boost commercial ties with Turkey.

The talks focused on energy issues and deals to support small and medium-sized companies. 

The meetings took place as Turkey renewed a threat to veto North Atlantic Treaty Organization membership for Sweden and Finland despite the alliance having formally paved the way for the two Nordic countries to join.

Turkey will not ratify membership of NATO for the applicants if they don’t fufill their promises to combat terrorism and extradite suspects under a memorandum of understanding reached at an alliance summit in Madrid last week, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Monday.

Turkey is Italy’s biggest trade partner in the Middle East and North Africa, with exchanges worth 19.4 billion euros in 2021, according to data released by the Italian government. 

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